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Teachers Settle Contract
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It was once again a standing room only start to the monthly meeting of the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board meeting on Monday, April 20. This time however, the Technology and Staff Development Center was not filled with teachers, but rather parents of accomplished students.

The monthly meeting was called to order minutes after 6:30 p.m. Students of the 15-time Stanislaus County Champion Academic Decathlon Competing Team, as well as the OHS Occupational Olympic Award recipients were acknowledged by the board.

“I’m just really blessed to work with these guys,” Aca Dec Coach Linda Dodge said as she addressed the group. “I love ‘em all.”

Superintendent Marc Malone then publicly announced to the group that the 2014-2015 school year would be the final year in which Dodge would coach the team.

“We are in the process of coming up with a succession plan,” Malone said. “We are really happy with the efforts of Linda and we are really happy with the efforts of our students. To do anything 15 consecutive times is truly, truly remarkable.”

Several of the nine students offered sincere gratitude to the board as well as the community for continued support of the team.

“Even though we may not know each other by name, we know each other in our hearts because we are Oakdale,” Aca Dec team member Eva Galindo said to the group.

The most notable moment in general business came from Oakdale Teachers Association President Stacy Graham, as she addressed the board acknowledging that an agreement had finally been met in the way of contract negotiations.

“Obviously the past few weeks have been extremely busy for all of us,” Graham said. The OTA president stated that the group’s intent was to conduct their vote prior to departure for spring break.

“We were able to do that,” she said. “The outcome of the vote was very close.”

Of the members who voted, Graham shared there were 53 percent in favor, 47 percent against the 5 percent increase, plus 1 percent one-time bonus proposed contract. “What I really want to let you know is that there are still some things we need to discuss and get figured out, so that we can have a higher percentage of teachers who are willing to pass our contract.”

Graham also shared that new leadership roles were voted on as well during the past few weeks, one of which will be Lance Campbell stepping in as OTA President for the coming year.

“It’s always the intention of everyone to look at the kids first,” Graham continued. “…We are willing to work together. We’re not the type of association that wants to fight or argue. We want to be on the same page with you. So I hope that through the negotiation process this year, that we haven’t drawn a line in concrete. There’s a line there, I hope that we can consider it in the sand and we can maybe erase it and move it … if that’s a better way to look at it.”

Graham stressed cooperation is still key, even though the vote was a close one.

“I didn’t think it would be right for me to come up and just say, okay the vote passed,” she added. “I think we all need to know that there are still many members out there who are still … a little unhappy.”

The new contract was unanimously ratified by the board.

Oakdale teachers will now receive a contract equal to the one accepted and passed by CSEA last month.

The agreement includes a 5 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2014, as well as a 1 percent one-time off schedule salary bonus. The fiscal impact of the agreement on the 2014-2015 budget is $1,015,489 annually, plus a one-time expense of $1,213,967 for the bonus.

Other topics of interest included: a technology report and plan/projection for Oakdale Schools as well as approval of the renewal of Oakdale Charter School.

The next OJUSD board meeting will be conducted on Monday, May 11 at the OJUSD Technology and Staff Development Center. Open session will begin at 6:30 p.m.